A recurring theme in my kitchen is that I struggle with making breads. I don’t know what it is about yeast but it vexes me to no end. The bread I make at home is either a complete bust or just blah. Yet still I persist in thinking that if I just find the right recipe, the mysterious world of yeast will finally make sense to me. That thinking never really worked out for me with geometry or algebra. But call me the optimist because I am determined to one day pull a bread out of my oven that is worthy of ooohs and aaahs and gets gobbled up leaving people looking around for more, even if it’s just a crumb. This experiment with focaccia is just one step toward that goal.
Because like the misunderstood bad boy you crush on as a teenager, this focaccia is nice enough, but it’s not something you want to take home to mamma. I’ve got a few more bread recipes in the test folder. Not to mention that Bon Appetit: Fast, Easy, Fresh has an entire chapter on breads. Maybe I need to try and start with what I already have instead of speed dating for the Mr. Right of bread recipes. Who knows, maybe like falling in love it has been right in front of me the whole time.
Tomato Rosemary Focaccia
- 4 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
- 2 cups warm water (no hotter than 105 degrees)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (1/4 ounce packet) active dry yeast
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing the proofing bowl
- 3 large Roma tomatoes, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch slices
- Leaves from 1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Combine the water and yeast in a small bowl. Stir well and let sit for a few minutes, then add the 6 tablespoons olive oil. Add to the bowl with the flour and salt. Knead the dough for 10 minutes in the bowl, until it is smooth and elastic. In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, the dough should take about 6 minutes.
Generously grease a large bowl with oil or cooking spray. Transfer the kneaded dough to the bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot free of drafts and let sit for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in bulk.
Punch down the dough. Lightly grease a 17×12 or 15 x 10 rimmed baking sheet. Transfer the dough to the sheet and stretch it to fill to the edges. Place in a warm spot free of draft and let it sit for 30 to 45 minutes or until the dough has doubled in bulk. The dough should be visibly airy and will have risen just above the rim of the baking sheet. If it hasn’t risen that high, the dough can still be baked; the bread will just be flatter.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Liberally apply olive oil to the surface of the dough, then arrange the tomato slices on top. Use your fingers to dock the dough all over. Sprinkle evenly with the rosemary, grated cheese, and with salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until golden brown. For best results, rotate the pan front to back every 10 minutes during baking.
Let cool for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.